Old couple walking hand in hand

London - Couples who stay married into their 70s can look forward to an even better time together, research suggests.

One reason, it found, is that men learn to appreciate their wives more. Mutual dependence within marriage becomes particularly important to men after 70, partly as compensation for the loss of male friends to death.

Another reason is that men are more in touch with their feminine side as they get older and women become more masculinised, making for a more level physical and emotional playing field, the study found.

It says happy couples also make the most of the empty nest after children have left home.

The American research – the longest study of human development – began in 1938 and followed the lives of 268 men from the age of 19 onwards.

George Vaillant, 80, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, who took over the Grant Study in 1966, said it showed “loving people for a long time is good”. He added: “Mutual interdependence comes later to some than others, but the best marriages got better with time.”

Of the 268 men, 242 lived into old age and 173 married only once.

Prof Vaillant said that from age 20 to 70, only 18 percent of both partners reported their marriages as happy for at least 20 years.

By the age of 75, half of the surviving men did and by 85, the proportion of happy marriages rose to 76 percent, as reported by both partners. - Daily Mail